City of Monahans Dealing With Housing Problems

Nick Lawton
NewsWest 9

MONAHANS - The problem in Monahans isn't a lack of jobs.

The jobs are there, the houses aren't.

"They need help," said Monahans Mayor David Cutbirth. "Those people can't move to Monahans unless they've got houses. It's kind of one of those dilemmas. We need housing very badly, but we really can't afford the higher-priced housing."

The oil and gas industry is climbing and is set to take off in January with the start of drilling.

But if there are no places to stay, the fear is that the workers won't come, stifling growth for the community.

Officials right now say they're dealing with 18 available homes in a town of 6,000.

"The apartments have been full. Any rental homes that we've had," Monahans Economic Development Director Morse Haynes, said. "If you wanna rent a house in Monahans, it's next to impossible."

Mayor Cutbirth said they've been unsuccessful in getting developers to invest in Monahans housing for the last six years.

The small size of the city has them afraid for stability and maximum profit gain.

"We're a blue-collar community," Cutbirth said. "So what we need is affordable housing. We need houses that we'd put in here for $60, $70 a square foot and builders just run when you talk about that. They want $100 a square foot. $110."

It's not just the workers in Monahans who are suffering. After all, someone's got to sell the houses. Even when there aren't any houses to sell.

"The lack of housing's hurting us," Phillip Derrick, who's been a Monahans Realtor for 27 years, said.

He says thanks to this crunch, his business is suffering.

At the moment, the Mayor says they have no choice but to keep appealing to developers until one agrees to build.

Derrick says the best way to get them might be a different pitch, citing how Monahans attracts people from other counties as well.

"If they realize that by putting a store here in Monahans, they can pull from Pecos, Fort Stockton, Wink and Kermit, they can base a store here and pull from more than just 6,000 [people]," Derrick said.

The sites for buildings are set, but until someone invests, it's just bare ground.

And judging by Monahans' track record with developers, there's no telling when that will change.